What About Discipline?
by Betty Jackson
In the mind of some, discipline is simply about punishment. A simple study of how the word is used in scripture will show it is much more. Limiting discipline to punishment is to miss its purpose.
The Greek word (paideía) translated discipline in Hebrews 12 and 2 Timothy 3:16 in some versions, is also translated as instruction or training.The purpose of discipline, whether it is by some kind of punishment, verbal reproof or instruction, is not to be characterized as revenge.
The Lord expects us to train our children. Ephesians 6:4. Paul prefaces his instruction about discipline with the word “nourish” or “bring up” This word is also used in Ephesians 5:29. There is a warmness or gentleness in the word. In contrast to the brutality common in the then ruling Roman Empire, fathers are to wisely train their children in the Lord.
How important is discipline? Scripture explains, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11). The purpose and the fruit of discipline is clear: training and righteousness.
Failure to properly discipline our offspring, jeopardizes the “peaceable fruit of righteousness.” (cf. Prov. 29:15.) Self control is as important as an honest heart wherein truth has been deeply planted. It is only by training and teaching the scriptures will our children learn to be the master of themselves.
Every child needs to be trained, in harmony with his age, understanding and temperament. As we rear our children, we may question others about how to discipline our children. It may be daunting when we realize that Baby has his own personality and will. As he grows older, we learn he isn’t as easy to mold as we may have thought. And especially is this true of a stronger-willed child. Respect for authority is paramount. There will be a battle of wills. But deep affection with a dedication to loving chastisement will instruct our kids about authority, love, and self-mastery.
The scriptures have a lot to say about training children. However, one cannot lead where one will not go! Effective discipline begins with parents who are self-disciplined. Personal and honest evaluation of oneself may include asking: Do my spouse and I constantly bicker and hatefully disagree, even on unimportant things? Do I lose my temper and “throw a fit” when I need to hold my child accountable? Do I constantly criticize or “harp” at my youngster when correcting him? Do I try to say yes to my child’s requests, when I can; or do I usually say no? How do I go about my work? Am I haphazard, always leaving things to be done at the last minute, or always late! Am I always tardy for worship? What about the state of your home. None of us can have a perfectly kept home all the time. Life happens! But if it is always slovenly, it is a shame ( cf. Prov. 10:3-5; 12:23-24; 13:4). Are we inclined to be like the world in our habits, dress, and recreational pursuits?
Taking an honest inventory of our lives will be be a good indicator of how well we are training our children.
Youngsters will be exposed to all kinds of temptations. When they are little the temptation to lie will be common. Their little hearts must learn honesty, by gently, firmly teaching that lying is wrong. The very young have little idea of what all this means. They will respond to a sharp word with a lie, not even realizing that they were caught in wrong doing. It is important not to set a child up for a lie. if you saw her take the cookie, don’t ask if she did! As they get older, when they understand what lying is, they must face more significant consequences for not telling the truth.
“For whom the Lord loves He reproves. Even as father corrects the son in whom he delights”(Prov. 3:12). If the Lord loves us enough to reprove us, surely if we delight in our children, we will do all we can to train them in God’s way. When we are weak parents, we create an environment for our children to become self-centered and rebellious. Correction must be followed through. Promising discipline, whether it is a spanking or loss of privileges, then forgetting or unwilling to carry out the necessary measures is simply wrong. Under some circumstances, mercy might be extended, but not every day!
Peer pressure will become more real as children get older. They will be prompted to dress in a way that is provocative. Going to the beach is popular in many parts of the country. Is it alright to wear a bikini at the beach, but at a ball game or the grocery store it would be considered immodest? Why is it alright to wear a strapless wedding dress, yet immodest to wear a similar garment to worship or a party (or is it!)?
There are so many issues that will face our children. If they have not developed confidence in their parents to lead in righteousness; if their hearts have not learned honesty, and self mastery, they will yearn to be like their friends and the world. They will dress (or undress) like the rest, behave like unbelievers. Without honest hearts that are under control because of love for the Lord, they will sink into sin that is ever knocking at the door.
What have you done to help your children be pure and holy? Have you a laissez+faire attitude? Do you take the position that all will end well, no matter what you do? Have you encouraged your children to dress in a way that is provocative? Do you dress in clothes that leave little unrevealed? I do not understand mothers who wear those low necklines before their sons and daughters. In spite of the your own immodesty, would you be insulted if someone made a lewd comment to your nearly naked daughter or son?
Mom’s need to set the right example in dress and behavior. Shorts are a problem these days. Even if they are knee length, gaping big-legged shorts reveal more than anyone needs (or wants) to see. Fathers, need to dress modestly too! They need to have the moral courage to correct their wives and children concerning the way they dress.
Do you watch movies that are filled with excess violence, sexual innuendos, and foul language? Do your children?It should be no surprise when our children become involved in bad behavior with sad consequences, when we fail to teach them honest, pure, and self disciplined living.
When Nathan approached David for his sin with Bathsheba, he said, “Thou art the man!” As good as David was, he let his eyes fill with lust. He lapsed in self-mastery and sinned, bringing grave consequences into his own life and that of others.
Concerning Joseph, Reuben said, “Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? …” (Gen. 42:22). Have you sinned against your child by failing to train him in the Lord. I hope not. The church is filled with broken-hearted parents whose children have lost their way. May we not hear words such as “Thou art the man, woman!” for our lack of self-discipline. If we fail our children, we fail the Lord and the church. Some churches have dwindled in part because many parents have failed.
“‘Contrary to popular misguided cultural stereotypes and frequent parental misconceptions, the evidence clearly shows the the single most important social influence on the religious and spiritual lives of adolescents is their parents.’” “Parents are the most important determinants of their children’s spiritual life—or lack thereof.” (Sax, p. 183).
Researchers have learned exactly what Scripture has taught from the days of Moses. We can lead them in the Lord’s way. The general principle is “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Let us live right, and love them right by setting examples and giving instructions from the Holy Bible.
(Some works are not recommended nor approved of in entirety. Certain writers do not make logical conclusions or their books may contain doctrinal errors. They are used for the research contained therein.)
Jackson, Wayne, The Value of Modesty, https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/65-value-of-modesty-the
Sax, Leonard, M.D.; Ph.D.Girls on the Edge. 2010. New York, NY. Basic Books. p.283 (Sax quoted: Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Soul Searching. 2005. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 261)
Vaughn, David and Diane, The Beauty of Modesty, 2005. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House Publishing.
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